Honor And Family

By Paul Hall

A film with all of the scope of the biggest Hollywood summer blockbuster premiering in your home? Yes, that would be the live-action film version of Mulan, which found a home on the Disney+ streaming service for viewers who are willing to pay a premium. This epic adventure is perfectly suited to the biggest screen you have, with the best sound available.

Gone are the songs that you may remember from the animated tale of Mulan that graced the Disney library. Musical numbers are replaced with stunning vistas and amazingly choreographed action sequences in director Niki Caro’s vision.

Mulan (Yifei Liu) is a young girl growing up in a male-dominated China. A talented fighter, she has developed her natural talents into something special that hasn’t previously been seen in the girls under the emperor’s rule. When the call is made to the people to provide one man to fight from every household, Mulan’s father, being the only male member of the household, steps forward despite being older and weakened from earlier battles.

It is then that Mulan decides to secretly disguise who she is and take her father’s place. She knows that this tactic could lead to dishonor for her father and family, but it is a risk she is willing to take to protect him.

The battle is expanding and Mulan continues protecting her identity, but an evil witch knows who she is and will try to expose the warrior who is impressing all the men around her. Can Mulan help the cause while keeping her secret from being revealed?

It didn’t take long for me to become absorbed in this film. A story that preaches family, empowers young girls and women, and charges forward with action resulted in a different film than the animated Mulan I remember. There aren’t any major songs and light comedic moments are few and there simply to break up the film’s action — and yet that is OK, and probably even preferred here.

Action sequences that are choreographed like an enchanting ballet, the ability of the actors to create characters that evoked feelings in me from hatred to love and everywhere in between, and the brilliant landscapes used to explode the pictures from the screen are all important in making this film a wonderful spectacle to enjoy.

With such great messaging running hand-in-hand with the beautiful delivery, Mulan is a film that offers reverence to the past, motivation for today and encouragement for the future.

Paul’s Grade: A- / B+

Rated PG-13
Stars: Yifei Liu, Donnie Yen, Gong Li
Director: Niki Caro

Available through Disney + Premier Access


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